The short review: Golden Kamuy is simply amazing and one of the best things out right now. I think you should read it.
The long review: Intestines. Please take those skewers out of Sugitmoto’s cheeks. Asirpa has the BEST reaction faces. I found out that no matter how ancient Hijikata gets, my fangirlness knows no bounds and he will always be so fuckin’ cool. His whole “Kill them all!” scene gave me goosebumps and I got way too excited.
On a personal note, I absolutely love the portrayal of hunting in this manga. I think it’s so important to the story and I’m really intrigued as to how it’s being received by the readers. One thing in particular that stood out to me is after injuring the deer, as they’re tracking him Asirpa says, “Since the buck is injured, he’ll be trying to avoid climbing any slopes…” And my immediate thought was, “Uh, you’d think that, but you are WRONG.” (Unfortunately, I know this from experience. Not Ezo deer specifically, but still.) So then when their ambush goes awry and the deer escapes by going up the slope, I was oddly satisfied that such a silly but factual thing like that was included.
And at the risk of sounding like a total nutter (or giving away my super secret hunting technique?) Tanigaki’s conversation with Nihei about the “bloodthirsty odor” and the Matagi saying “become one with the trees” made me laugh out loud. I have actually done this. Not become a tree, of course, but tried to have “tree aura.” And for the curious reader, yes, I did end up with elk all around me, some within about four feet. And for the curious reader still reading: at four feet away, one of the elk did finally realize I was, in fact, not a tree and totally freaked out and bolted.
But I digress. READ GOLDEN KAMUY! It’s incredible.
To paraphrase a dying Doc Holliday in Tombstone: “If you were ever my friend, if you ever had any of the slightest feeling for me…read Astra Lost in Space.”
Seriously. I really want you to read this. I want everyone to read this. It’s so so so incredibly good.
In this first volume we’re introduced to the kids who think they’re going on a planet camping trip for a week. But instead of a safe time learning camping skills, the group gets sucked into this weird orb thing and spat out into space. Luckily, they find an old empty ship (though this ship is defunct in some suspicious ways, hmmm…) and try to cobble together a plan to survive and return home, some bazillion (okay, 5012) light years away.
Having been repeatedly blown away by the suspense/cliffhangers/mystery/holy shit! moments, I’d forgotten how genuinely funny this series is. It’s such a crazy perfect combination of emotions and genres and artistic elements that makes it an intriguing and engaging read.
PLEASE READ THIS. I’M BEGGING YOU.
POSSIBLE KIND-OF SPOILERS
Chakuro is compelled to write so he chronicles the events of the Mud Whale, a giant castle-ship that floats around on a sand ocean. It’s a closed society consisting of two types of people: the Marked, who use a type of magic; and the Unmarked, who don’t use magic but live longer and because of their longer lifespan, actually govern the Mud Whale.
Things start to get crazy when they spot an island and do some recon, only to “salvage” the lone survivor.
This will sound morbid but I actually liked the end of this volume the best. I appreciated the world-building and setting the scene but it felt…I don’t want to say “stagnant” but the entire time, you know something big and mysterious is going to happen (anything involving a Committee of Elders is a dead giveaway) and it’s like, “Get on with it!” I love a slow burn and appreciate pacing, but the anticipation was almost uncomfortable.
So when everything erupted with the suddenness and violence that it did, it was sickeningly gratifying. Like, “Yes! This is what I was waiting for!” even as I felt like a bad person all the while for so eagerly devouring their misfortune and trauma.
One thing in those final scenes that I thought was conveyed exceptionally well is the feeling and realization that the Mud Whale inhabitants hadn’t seen lethal violence. They had no reference for it. The incomprehension rather than terror on their faces during the initial wave really drove home the fact that these people had lived in isolation and relative innocence their entire lives…and thus the slaughter felt even more brutal and tragic.
When volume one of Frau Faust came out, all I saw were comparisons to Yamazaki’s other series The Ancient Magus’ Bride. I guess it’s to be expected being the same author, but from the get-go, Frau Faust reminded me way more of Black Butler with a dash of xxxHolic. And I mean that in the best of ways.
I really enjoy Johanna as a protagonist; she’s comfortable as herself (as she should be after a hundred years), smart, and independent. Her personality is a breath of fresh air. I suppose that’s why it’s up to Marion to be the wayward, unsure, angsty teen–a role he plays well without being so wishy-washy as to be irritating.
In volume two, the search is on for Mephisto’s right leg. In the meantime, we get a very informative flashback to Johanna’s childhood and why she made her deal with the devil. I also couldn’t help but love the bit of banter and male bonding time between Lorenzo (I can’t read the name “Lorenzo” without thinking of Cuticle Detective Inaba, though) and Vito. By the end of the volume we’re eyeballs-deep in a mystery that feels like the lovechild of Blue Exorcist and Vatican Miracle Examiner.
I feel like I’m unintentionally name-dropping way too much in this post.
In the author’s note at the end, Yamazaki-sensei apologizes for the slow pace of the story, but I think it’s just right. Everything is coalescing in an enjoyable, natural way.
This. Was. Amazing.
I reached the “break” between chapters and had to remind myself to breathe. I sat there for a second, excitedly thinking, “What the hell did I just read?!” Honestly, it wasn’t like I’d read it at all–it was more like I’d just watched a movie or just…felt it. That’s how instantly engrossing this was for me.
I love the new-agey implications of a story involving an immortal essence, something that lives, makes mistakes, dies, learns, and then is reborn to try again. And again. And again…constantly learning and evolving and progressing.
But even if spiritualism and analogies of reincarnation aren’t your thing, To Your Eternity is so compelling and beautifully written you don’t want to pass it up.
I love All Out!!
So in volume two, we’re finishing up the match against Keijo. We get some really great sports-manga moments and even a short flashback to a Sekizan before he had the curly hair and white streaks. (Better yet, the hair thing is even commented on in the between-chapter comics.)
Since Gion is a beginner, more rules are explained in this volume so the reader and Gion can learn the rules of rugby together. (right…)
In this match of hot-blooded young men, Ooharano stands out and the other first years…don’t. He also stands out because he doesn’t like sweaty guys. (Speak for yourself!) Ebumi wants to play and there comes a moment in the second half where they have to sub someone in…but let’s not forget who’s the protagonist of this story! (Hint: not Ebumi.)
After the match, we get a bonus manga of one of my favorite sports manga institutions: the after-match function! Because there’s nothing like teams who were just trying to beat the crap out of each other now socializing and having a good time. Ah, youth.
Speaking of my favorite sports manga institutions, the end of this volume kicks off (no pun intended)…THE TRAINING CAMP. Is there anything better? The best thing about this training camp is we get a new character who is totally going to shake things up. No pain, no gain!
On a personal note, one of my favorite things in this volume is Mutsumi getting offended on Sekizan’s behalf in the final pages and trying to protect him. Seeing easy-going, smiley-eyed Mutsumi get so upset so quickly because someone insulted Sekizan is…the panels my dreams are made of.
So, I’d seen a tweet advertising this and thought, “Oh, I need to check that out!” However, when I looked it up…I’d already preordered it. >_<
But I’m glad I did! This first volume got right down to business, no pun intended. There was a very xxxHolic vibe to much of the volume, which I enjoyed because I love xxxHolic. The whole thing had a feeling of “new yet familiar.” Or maybe “familiar yet new”?
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how rapidly things escalated in the final pages; I wasn’t expecting a dramatic twist + cliffhanger this early in the series. Now I can’t wait for volume two!